PCOS And Smoking


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the most common excess androgen imbalance in women, has been defined by the Androgen Excess Society (AES) as a predominantly hyperandrogenic syndrome. In addition to clinical symptoms such as menstrual disorders, hirsutism, and sterility, women with PCOS could develop metabolic sequelae. 

Smoking is defined, by Britannica, as the act of inhaling and exhaling the fumes of burning plant material which includes marijuna and hashish, but the act is most commonly connected with tobacco as smoked in a cigarette, pipe, or cigar. Tobacco consists of an alkaloid called nicotine which can have both invigorating and pacifying psychoactive effects and is habit-forming. Smoking, in females with PCOS, is associated with elevated free testosterone and fasting insulin levels, which makes insulin resistance more severe. 

What is PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), also known as a polycystic ovarian syndrome, is a hormonal disorder that affects women and causes reproductive hormones to be imbalanced. This hormonal disorder tends to lead to insulin resistance, infertility, cardiovascular problems, and obesity, including tons of other health issues. PCOS is a polygenic, dysregulated steroid state, autoimmune, inflammatory, polyfactorial, systemic disease, manifesting mainly due to lifestyle errors.

Females of reproductive age with PCOS secrete numerous amounts of male hormones which causes erratic menstrual periods, hinder pregnancy, hair growth on the face and body, and baldness. 

Birth control pills and diabetes drugs which fight insulin resistance help fix hormonal disorder and enhance symptoms.


Symptoms can vary from mild to severe in women. All symptoms might not be present in a woman with PCOS. Some experience menstrual problems only or inability to conceive, or both.

Common symptoms of PCOS include:

  • Menstrual irregularities or amenorrhea
  • Inability to get pregnant (due to irregular ovulation or no ovulation)
  • Excess hair growth on the face, chest, back, or buttocks
  • Weight gain
  • Hair thinning and loss of hair on the head
  • Obesity
  • Skin tag
  • Cysts

Does smoking increase androgen levels?

Smoking tends to increase testosterone because nicotine and/or its metabolites share the same disposal pathway with androgens, which could competitively inhibit its disposal. Nicotine has an anti-estrogen effect in women and it increases the ratio of androgens to estrogens throughout life. Nicotine and other cigarette toxins also cause overactivity of the reproductive & hormonal system, and have an effect on the probability of a successful pregnancy not only in cases of assisted reproduction but also in healthy women.

Can smoking while pregnant increase the risk of PCOS for the baby?

Yes, smoking while pregnant increases the risk. Studies have shown that maternal smoking and increased BMI seems to elevate the chances of PCOS in offspring. Among women with PCOS who smoke, the risk of gestational diabetes is also increased. It could lead to having a huge baby which could lead to issues during delivery.

Potential risks for the baby with maternal PCOS include premature birth, too big for gestational age, miscarriage, etc

Tips for quitting smoking

1. Find a Reason to quit

To be motivated to quit, there must be a solid reason. Choosing a good and strong reason is strong enough to keep you motivated at all times.

2. Be prepared before quitting

It takes more than throwing away cigarettes since smoking is an addiction. Counselling, quit-smoking classes and apps, medication, and hypnosis are things tools that can be used to help to stop smoking. To quit smoking, it takes being well prepared before the journey begins.   

3. Consider Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Due to the symptoms shown while quitting smoking, there is a great need to consider. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) can help  to reduce the urges. Studies show that lozenges, nicotine gum, and patches with a quit-smoking program elevate chances of success.

Other tips include:

  • Learn About Prescription Pills that can ease withdrawal symptoms
  • Get Support From Loved Ones
  • Get a Break
  • Avoid Alcohol and Other Triggers
  • Make sure the House is clean
  • Keep trying, don’t give up
  • Add Fruits and Veggies to diet
  • Choose Your Reward for more motivation
  • Remember That There is enough Time


Several studies have shown the relationship between smoking and PCOS. Smoking has the potential to increase both metabolic syndrome and hyperandrogenism in women with PCOS. Nevertheless, smoking while diagnosed with PCS is crucial. Look after yourself and try maintaining a healthy lifestyle.


  1. March WA, Moore VM, Willson KJ, Phillips DI, Norman RJ, Davies MJ. The prevalence of polycystic ovary syndrome in a community sample assessed under contrasting diagnostic criteria. Hum Reprod. 2010 Feb;25(2):544-51. doi: 10.1093/humrep/dep399. Epub 2009 Nov 12. PMID: 19910321.
  1. Rose, C. Ann , Henningfield, . Jack , Sweanor, . David T. and Hilton, . Matthew J. (2022, September 27). smoking. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/smoking-tobacco
  1. Feferkorn I, Badeghiesh A, Mills G, Baghlaf H, Dahan M. The effects of smoking on pregnancy risks in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a population-based study. Hum Reprod. 2021 Aug 18;36(9):2549-2557. doi: 10.1093/humrep/deab145. PMID: 34164665.
  1. PCOS pregnancy and delivery complications. (2016)pcosaa.org/pcos-pregnancy-and-delivery-complications
  1. Valgeirsdottir H, Vanky E, Sundström-Poromaa I, Roos N, Løvvik TS, Stephansson O, Wikström AK. Prenatal exposures and birth indices, and subsequent risk of polycystic ovary syndrome: a national registry-based cohort study. BJOG. 2019 Jan;126(2):244-251. doi: 10.1111/1471-0528.15236. Epub 2018 Jun 12. PMID: 29896923.
  1. Jie Zhao, June Yue Yan Leung, Shi Lin Lin, C. Mary Schooling. Cigarette smoking and testosterone in men and women: A systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Preventive Medicine, Volume 85,2016. Pages 1-10. ISSN 0091-7435. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2015.12.021(https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091743515003941)
  1. Jandíková H, Dušková M, Stárka L. The influence of smoking and cessation on the human reproductive hormonal balance. Physiol Res. 2017 Sep 26;66(Suppl 3):S323-S331. doi: 10.33549/physiolres.933724. PMID: 28948816.

Ajayi Anjolaoluwa

Bachelor of Science - BS, Medical Physiology, Bowen University, Nigeria

Anjolaoluwa is a physiology graduate and currently works as a medical evaluator. She is passionate and dedicated to educate the society and empower them with knowledge to take control of their health through research and medical writing. And also educating the public about current advancements in medicine.

my.klarity.health presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
Klarity / Managed Self Ltd
Alum House
5 Alum Chine Road
Westbourne Bournemouth BH4 8DT
VAT Number: 362 5758 74
Company Number: 10696687

Phone Number:

 +44 20 3239 9818